Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Suffering’s Greatest Encouragement

Although He was the Son of God, the living, human Jesus was not saved from suffering, and He suffered so very much, for us, as the perfect expression of God’s love, and as the Exemplar for life.
In this — His suffering, His consummation, His passion — we can surely know He was one-hundred percent human.  (This article is not about Jesus’ one-hundred percent divinity, as absolutely incarnate of God, though that, in our appraisal, is irrefutable.)
He suffered more than we could ever suffer.  He was afflicted much more, yet suffered manifestly unjustly, propounding the injustice of suffering without cause.  And hence, He learned obedience, through withstanding temptation, enduring the pain the Father allowed Him to bear, and by being willingly brought to nothing, among many other rationalities the brevity of this article just will not allow.
We could say that how could He learn obedience when He was already supposedly sinlessly perfect?
As a human being He still had to endure His suffering, and being human meant to withstand His suffering was never a fait accompli.  We might think that obedience for Jesus was easy, because He was of God.  But being fully human meant that nothing we experience as humans was alleviated from Him.  He suffered humanly.  He suffered as you and I do… just as you and I do… and suffered more… without any justification.
Jesus had to endure the suffering of His passion to be our Saviour.  He had to practice obedience to learn obedience.  And in learning obedience, by being obedient, He shows each of us in our suffering that we learn obedience by being obedient.
There is something salubrious in surrendering our will for His.
To suffer, through surrender, insisting on nothing, is to know God’s blessed Presence.  Partakers of the same obedient suffering of Jesus, makes us sufferers worthy of a crown.  That crown — in this life (because there is another crown) — is a crown of humility attuned to His obedience.
The learning of obedience is the central purpose of our lives, and we cannot learn a thing until we’ve suffered somewhat as He suffered.
So here is the encouragement:
If you suffer, you’re halfway there.  You already have His Presence.  The suffering won’t change the fact that you’re suffering.  It’s real.  It’s yours, yet you’d not wish it on another.  But in that cherished place you have a friend in Jesus — the only one, yet the all-sufficient One, who goes with you into the darkness of your present horror.
He is not only with you; He’s guiding you in how to suffer obediently; to bear humiliation like no human being could without His Presence.
Jesus loans us, via His Spirit, moment by shrill moment, the strength to bear suffering obediently.  Our reward is He teaches us how He suffered and we learn His obedience.
Then we know Him.  Then, finally, we’re able to love Him.
And lastly, this suffering I talk of is not an exclusivist thing.
We’ve all suffered enough to know Him and love Him, but have we let Him in to help us?
Jesus demands our honesty, our willing surrender of horrendous realities, our openness to His Spiritual healing.
Simply people, nothing else works.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

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